Become CHEVALIER DE L’ASTRÉE – Discover the PROJECT
The Creation of an Edible Forest, for the Common Good
Pollinating insects, responsible for a large part of the food we are eating, are currently endangered by modern agriculture, and it’s up to us to save them… to save ourselves.
Did you Know ?
- Did you know that foraging insects, like solitary bees, bumble bees, butterflies, wasps, and many others contribute to pollinate almost a third of the food we eat ?
- Did you know that 85% of the plants are in need of those insects to spread ?
- Did you know that monoculture, a technique used by our intensive modern agriculture, is a major factor of the decline of nearly 40% of the population of foraging insects ?
- Finally, did you know that 52% of our fruits, vegetables and everyday products would disappear from the stalls of our supermarkets if foraging insects were to become extinct ?
The Project of the « Chevaliers de l’Astrée » : The creation of an edible forest
“None of us knows what we all know, together.” Euripides
Les Chevaliers de l’Astrée is a collective project, open to everyone, which aims, through the establishment of an edible forest, to create a refuge for foraging insects, for the benefit of all, Nature, insects, animals and humans.
A true model of tomorrow’s agriculture, this edible forest, composed of melliferous and nectariferous species wich blooming spread over many months, will attract foraging insects, develop pollination, repel pests and unwanted plants while fertilizing itself.
It is a community work, bringing together the defenders of foraging insects and the nature lovers around the same values, the same goal, and one blazon. For anyone wanting to put a little of themselves towards the protection of our biodiversity, by acquiring a small corner of paradise, in the heart of the French countryside.
Joining us in the adventure of the Chevaliers de l’Astrée is to participate in a bold community project and make a civic gesture ; not only for the planet but also for oneself.
To participate, you have the possibility to acquire a pack among many options. You will then become the owner of a plant in our estate, which will give you the title of Chevalier de l’Astrée. You will participate directly in a community project beneficial to biodiversity and the common good; An ideal gift, ecological and responsible.
Les Chevaliers de l’Astrée : a multiple mission
“Working with nature, not against it“
Make a gesture for the community, and participate in the design of an edible forest, unique in France, which benefits all species. With the support of many specialists, and with your help, we can act boldly, effectively, and sustainably.
The mission of the Chevaliers de l’Astrée is multiple.
- Protect insects from monocultures that are harmful to their health.
- To create, in the heart of our French countryside, numerous areas of biodiversity, to maintain perennial ecosystems, with the minimum of human intervention.
- Densifying, diversifying, and tending towards a system of abundance where all of us, plants, animals, humans, insects, and nature, support each other in a mutually supportive and sustainable way.
To give to the members of the project, and owners of the plants, a counterpart.
In parallel, develop educational materials to carry out awareness campaigns, in schools and for local actors.
Les Chevaliers de l’Astrée: Who are we?
Back a few months ago.
We, it’s Nathalie, Angélique, Olivia, Melanie, Pascal, Anne, Guillaume, Walter, … a team of nature enthusiasts above all, but also professionals.
Particularly involved for years in the project of a nature reserve in Scotland, and in view of the success of similar projects in Spain or in Austria, and the growing demand for such a community in France, the idea quietly germinated in our minds before we decided to get started, a few months ago.
Observing the damage caused by the hectares of monoculture that invade our countryside, especially in terms of biodiversity, it was time to start cultivating, in the middle of our fields, areas populated by melliferous and nectariferous plants suitable for foraging insects.
After many months spent looking for financing, we have become the proud owners of two pieces of land that will see our project come to life :
– A traditional, 20-year-old, untreated orchard near the Lac d’Eguzon in Berry (Region Centre-Val de Loire). It consists mainly of about 50 apple trees but also hazelnut, walnut, and chestnut trees; It is also crossed by a stream.
– A vast meadow on the site of Fontsemont, in La Roche-Posay, in the region Nouvelle Aquitaine. With an area of more than one hectare, it is next to a forest, and contains an old pond.
The land of La Roche-Posay was renamed, by our care, “Astrée”; We are in October 2016, and this is how Les Chevaliers de l’Astrée are born.
Les Chevaliers de l’Astrée: Preparing a favourable field for the growth of an edible forest
Les Chevaliers de l’Astrée: Preparing a favourable field for the growth of an edible forest
And so, the time had come to do some landscaping. To do this, we have required the services of two professionals; Walter, Landscape Architect-Nurseryman, responsible for the design of the plans and the association of different plants (fruit, berry flowers, aromatic), as well as Mr Bravard, in charge of the acquisition of plants.
During long working weeks, Walter worked on the design of guilds, that is, sets of flowers that grow together, composed of a major plant surrounded by its allies, often a tree, a vine, shrubs or herbaceous plants. It was also necessary to protect the land of the animals: tidal strips stretched at different heights to keep the deers away, brushing our trees with bone juice to deter herbivores, placing hemp ropes soaked in garlic oil linen, to repel rabbits and small rodents…
We are using, for the moment, about 400 m2 of the land. At present, about 200 plants have already taken place on the estate since November 2016, coiled up in manure, leaves, forest soil and straw.
As for the pond, currently dry, we have plans to clean it, to restore its original function. It was there the neighborhood animals had become accustomed to drinking throughout the year.
One step further: Les Chevaliers de l’Astrée, the necessity of acting for biodiversity.
“Because they need us, and we need them“
Foraging insects are facing numerous threats.
Whether they are bumble bees, solitary bees, beetles, butterflies, wasps, osmias, xylocopes, flies, wild foraging insects are now largely threatened by many causes of human origin : mainly the proliferation of pesticides, air pollution and the destruction of the plants from which pollinators feed, and their habitats by the preponderance of monoculture. Indeed, if nature proposes thousands of plants, many of them are considered undesirable by the farmers, and treated as such: brambles, dandelions, nettles, wild flowers, … Similarly, the hedges and gardens disappear and give way to acres of monoculture.
However, these pollinators play a fundamental role in the process of pollination, and thus plant breeding, maintenance of our forests and biodiversity. According to a recent study by Whole Foods Market®, more than 85% of plants need these pollinating insects to exist, and nearly 1/3 of the food we consume is directly related to animal pollination. Without pollinating insects, 52% of our fruits, vegetables and consumer products would disappear from our supermarkets shelves : fruits and fruit products, vegetables, coffee, cocoa, spices, oilseeds and protein crops, …
Although there are more than 25,000 species of pollinating insects, their populations have been decreasing worryingly over the past two decades, with some areas losing more than 90% of the colonies.
Les Chevaliers de l’Astrée: permaculture as a model for sustainable and responsible agriculture
Widely used in intensive and industrial agriculture today, monoculture is a model that consists in cultivating a single species on a plot. With consequent impoverishment of the soils, regular use of pesticides, the release of greenhouse gases, and a significant loss of biodiversity. Melliferous and nectariferous plants disappear, causing a decline in pollinating insect populations, and the problems we are experiencing today.
In view of this, solutions are needed. The first is to radically change our way of life, and to adopt a new agricultural system : the exact opposite of the present one. Developed in the 1970s by an Australian researcher Bill Mollison, permaculture, unlike traditional monoculture, is a model of sustainable and self-sufficient agriculture, in which man works with nature, not against it.
One of the flagship techniques of permaculture is the edible forest, which aims to develop perennial ecosystems through the superposition of several edible, allied and complementary plant species on the same plot. For the forest is already autonomous, durable, and fertile in itself. If we left nature do its thing, without any human intervention, France would again become an immense forest; Most fodder forests still flourish even after 1000 years of existence.
Here, the challenge lies in the creation of an edible forest, on the model of a multi-tiered natural forest (roots and climbing plants, fruits and vegetables, then fruit shrubs like bushes, fruit trees such as apple trees or cherry trees , then finally the canopy – the highest trees), capable of constituting real refuges for the pollinating insects, and to preserve the biodiversity of our countryside. This requires a lot of energy at the start. But once the forest is in place, all you have to do is reap the rewards. According to the Englishman Robert Hart, who transposed tropical edible forests to our western temperate climates, “No one fertilizes or irrigates a forest. The forest is autonomous. If you are able to recreate a nurturing forest then your main effort will be to reap the rewards. ”
A priori, if an edible forest is functional and autonomous only after a few years – generally 3 or 4 – it can produce fruits from the beginning. Of course, its efficiency will increase with time, and achieve optimum production after ten years.
As you can see, foraging insects play a crucial role in biodiversity, the survival of nature, and our eating habits. Without them, our consumption patterns would be disrupted in a very significant way. It is therefore necessary to become aware of this threat and to act for the survival of wild insect species that contribute to our own well-being.
As Chevalier de l’Astrée, you too can choose to take part in this project and help make our countryside true biodiversity spaces. The solution is within reach of all of us.